The HLTA Oahu Chapter, under the leadership of its chair Bonnie Kiyabu, is once again staging the Back To School Supplies Drive after a very successful first year. They will be collecting new supplies such as composition tablets, crayons, glue, and more on Saturday, June 17, 2017 at Kahala Mall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will donate the supplies to Ali'iolani Elementary and Ala Wai Elementary schools. Last year HLTA was able to donate over $500 and 500 pounds of school supplies to Palolo Elementary, Aliiolani Elementary, and Ala Wai Elementary Schools. Join us again for a fun and heartwarming day of service and please get your family and friends to participate.
On the federal level, President Donald Trump in announcing his fiscal 2018 federal budget proposal stated he intends to eliminate funding for Brand USA, the travel destination marketing organization for the United States. HLTA has joined the many voices in the visitor industry in strongly opposing the removal of support to Brand USA.
I have been a stout and long-time supporter of public-private partnerships. When I was Mayor I was chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayor’s Tourism and Arts Committee when we first prioritized the creation of Brand USA and lobbied Congress extensively for passage of the measure. In 2010, Congress voted to establish this vital public-private partnership for the nation’s travel industry, an entity tasked with coordinating a global marketing platform to promote the United States. With strong bipartisan and industry support, Brand USA has performed remarkably well since its inception. By implementing a state-of-the-art marketing platform, Brand USA has attracted millions of new tourists to the United States and has helped inject billions of dollars into the economy of Hawai‘i and our nation.
One of Hawai‘i’s own, renowned chef and restaurateur extraordinaire and HLTA member Roy Yamaguchi was nominated by the late U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye to be a founding board member of Brand USA. Since then, Brand USA has driven more than 4.3 million international visitors to the U.S., supported an average of 51,000 incremental U.S. jobs annually, and averaged returns of nearly $28 per dollar spent on marketing. In reaction to the organization’s success, Congress had reauthorized the program in 2014 and extended operations to 2020. With such formidable support from both Congress and the tourism industry nationally, we were extremely disappointed when the President’s budget proposed to completely eliminate Brand USA.
As a state where travel and tourism is our number-one economic driver, we appreciate the importance of an effective marketing strategy. It is essential to maintaining our share of the existing customer base and to stay competitive in an international destination marketplace. Travel and tourism, on a national scale, generates approximately $2.3 trillion in economic output and employs one in nine Americans, establishing itself as a critical sector in the nation’s economy. Having a successful marketing entity to promote the United States’ image as a prime destination for people around the world to visit America is essential. For years, international marketing efforts by the United States were devoid of any federal government support, which often put us at a disadvantage when competing against other nations, which poured millions of dollars into their travel marketing efforts. We are hopeful that together with Hawai'i's Congressional delegation we will be successful in keeping this major federal tourism program alive.
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